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On Sri Lanka, ICC Prosecution “Could Be an Option” for State Party Nationals

[Inner City Press, Wednesday, 8 December 2010 19:29 No Comment]

With International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo at the UN on Tuesday, Inner City Press asked him about the killings in Sri Lanka and if and when the ICC could take action. Video here, from Minute 21:14.

Ocampo began with the obvious, that Sri Lanka is not a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. But as Inner City Press pointed out in its question, several of those suspected of war crimes in Sri Lanka have dual citizenship, some with countries that ARE members of the ICC.

Ocampo said that if there becomes “clarity that nationals of state parties committed crimes, that could be an option.” Video here, from Minute 23:29.

  By providing such clarity and addressing this obvious legal and factual question, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s otherwise defanged Panel of Experts — which has not even asked to go to Sri Lanka, nor confirmed it will speak with Sri Lankan military figures posted in the country’s Mission to the UN — could at least perform some service.


Ocampo & UN’s Ban: Panel’s discussion o nationals of ICC state parties not shown

It should be noted that the ICC under Ocampo says it is considered charges against non state parties, including most recently North Korea / DPRK. While the ICC can only get involved when local / national judicial processes fail, the leaked cable by US Ambassador in Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis notes that

“There are no examples we know of a regime undertaking wholesale investigations of its own troops or senior officials for war crimes while that regime or government remained in power. In Sri Lanka this is further complicated by the fact that responsibility for many alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka."

This analysis, which so upset the Rajapaksa government that Ambassador Butenis nearly alone among US Ambassadors issued her own press release seeking to explain it, runs counter to US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice’s more positive public statement AFTER Butenis’ on the ground assessment of the Rajapaksa run Lessons Learnt process.

Earlier on Tuesday, Inner City Press asked the speaker at the ICC State Parties event for Human Rights Watch Rickard Dicker about Sri Lanka. Video here, from Minute 42:14.

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